UO students plan ‘die-in’ Friday to protest war in Syria
On Friday afternoon, student protesters will lie down, imitating dead bodies, in the street on the corner of University Street and 13th Avenue to protest the war in Syria.
The protesters, beginning at 2:30 p.m., will attempt to disrupt the foot traffic that is usually dense in that area. This type of protest is called a “die-in,” and is a variation of a sit-in protest, in which people occupy a space peacefully to spread a message.
Hosting the protest is UO junior Miles Shepard. He recruited the UO Young Democratic Socialists group, the Radical Organizing Activist Resource Center and the Student Labor Action Project to help facilitate. The event’s Facebook page is here.
Shepard, a tall but soft-spoken Portland native, has been involved in protests and other direct action throughout high school and college, including through the Portland Student Union and the Oregon Student Association, as well as the UO Young Democratic Socialists.
Shepard saw a need to protest war when he saw that neither candidate in the 2016 US presidential election was advocating for peace. “It’s kind of horrifying that one of the only things that Democrats and Republicans agree on is that it’s cool to bomb Syria,” he said.
Shepard stated in an interview with the Emerald that his goal with the die-in is to call attention to the innocent lives being taken by the US government overseas, he said. “This is just a grotesque loss of life at the beginning of 2017 that should be acknowledged publicly. It should be talked about.”
The US and allied forces have carried out 20,205 strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and although the Pentagon has only acknowledged the killing of 229 civilians, it is suspected that the real number could be in the thousands, according to an article in the LA Times last month.
“Even if there’s one person lying down in the street, a lot of people are going to walk by and see it and wonder what’s happening, and I think that there’s a consciousness raising that happens because of that,” Shepard said. “It’s on us to challenge our government’s cold-blooded killing overseas in our name.”
At least two other die-in protests have been staged on UO’s campus — one in 2014 protesting the killing of Eric Garner by police in New York, and the other in 2001 to protest the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Neither protest stopped traffic, and both remained peaceful.